AUSTIN, Texas (KETK) – Local lawyers are weighing in after Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order prohibiting vaccine mandates “by any entity.”
According to a release from Abbott’s office, the executive order states that “no entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccination by any individual, including an employee or consumer, who objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19.”
The executive order applies for any company doing business in Texas, meaning even if a business whose headquarters is in another state mandates the vaccine, they have to abide by the order in Texas.
If an owner decides to ignore this order, they could face a $1,000 fine, but jail time is not a penalty.
Justin Roberts, of Roberts and Roberts Law Office, spoke to KETK to weigh in on the vaccine mandate.
“We’re not used to seeing a governor act on an emergency basis and strike down state laws to do things like this, said Roberts. “We may see some businesses just take the calculated risk of saying ‘we’ll pay the penalty, we care about the mandate we think its beneficial,’ so given that it’s such a small penalty I bet you will see that happen.”
In addition to the executive order, Abbott also made moves to add the issue to the agenda for the third special legislative session. He is asking the legislature to make this a permanent law and said his executive order will be rescinded once the legislation passes.
“If the Texas legislature follows the governor’s heed and makes this a state law that you can’t impose vaccine mandates, I expect that ultimately the courts will find that the state law trumps the federal law which is unusual, federal law usually wins,” said Roberts. “But here the state has the responsibility and primary duty to protect safety and welfare of it’s citizens, I think the state law will win at the end of the day.”
“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and our best defense against the virus, but should remain voluntary and never forced,” Abbott said.
This comes after the Biden administration last month announced sweeping vaccine mandates requiring all employers with 100+ workers to either mandate vaccines or test workers weekly.
Following the announcement of Abbott’s executive order, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “Why would you be taking steps that prevent the saving of lives, that make it more difficult to save lives across the country or in any state?”
In the order, Abbott says Biden’s mandates are “another instance of federal overreach” and the administration is “bullying” private entities into enacting vaccine mandates.
The order overtakes any conflicting order issued by local officials.